I recently returned from a fabulous trip to Costa Rica. This gives me material for blogging, and explains the gap in posts. I love to travel. It gives me a wealth of personal experiences that expands my horizons. It also gives me game fodder. Places, environment, people, animals all give me interesting and insidious ideas to use as a DM.
When it comes to animals in game, I have always played them as recommended by the various editions. Animals are neutral, not good or evil, and are largely driven by simple basic instincts. The danger in animals is when a character interferes or becomes the target of one of those instincts. Otherwise, animals pose no threat and have no complex motives.
Or so I thought until I was only a few feet from The Face of Evil. The face was at one end of sixteen feet and 1,000 pounds of American Crocodile. Rationally, I knew this was just an animal with animal instincts, desires and thoughts. Rationally, I knew this creature was a simpleton, with only simple cunning, muscle and teeth to make it dangerous. Irrationally, I looked at this beast and shivered right down to the marrow in my bones (of which I am certain it was contemplating just how tasty they might be). Irrationally and viscerally, I was dead certain this evil creature was plotting my demise and inwardly getting great pleasure from it.
Since I am writing this blog and have posted these pictures you can surmise that the creature did not get to enjoy my bone marrow. It is not the first time I have seen a dangerous creature up close, there are others I can draw upon. The experience does add to my perspective to use in game, mostly from a description standpoint. When you think about fear, let us say for example, generated by the presence of dragon. The little inkling of terror that felt is just a taste of the overwhelming presence of a great wyrm!
I was relatively safe in a fiberglass boat (hah!), and there were another 40 or so delectable morsels to choose from if the crocodile decided we were lunch and could figure out how make that a reality. Therefore my odds were pretty good of coming out alive even if my evil fantasy were true. So why the terror?
Its long teeth lining that evil grin transfixing my gaze as it slithered closer and closer to my quivering form, all the while pretending it was large, ungainly, and slow.
Memorized and indecisive I might be, pondering my choices. Should I run? Should I fight? Should I....
Until in a moment of stunned surprise it rushes forward and - snap! Is it all over?